FDA Issues Notice on Plans to Research Use of ‘Healthy’ Symbols on Food Products

Food and Drug AdministrationFood and Drug Administration

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The following statement is attributed to Conrad Choiniere, Ph.D., director of the Office of Analytics and Outreach, Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition:

“The FDA understands that consumers want healthy choices when it comes to food and nutrition. [Therefore], we are issuing a procedural notice on preliminary consumer research we are planning on the use of symbols on food product labels. The symbol could later be used to convey the nutrient content claim ‘healthy.’ As part of the Paperwork Reduction Act, federal agencies are required to publish notice in the Federal Register on each proposed information collection and to give the public the opportunity to comment. Specifically, we are seeking input on ways to enhance the quality, usefulness and clarity of the information to be collected.

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“Nutrient content claims are a labeling tool that explicitly or implicitly characterizes the level of a nutrient in the food. These claims can help consumers quickly gain a better understanding of the general nutrition information listed on food packages.

“We’re conducting this research in conjunction with the development of a proposed rule the FDA intends to later publish to update the definition of the nutrient content claim ‘healthy.’ Any potential symbol would represent the nutrient content claim “healthy” and could be used voluntarily by companies on food product labels that meet the ‘healthy’ definition.

“The update to the definition and creation of a symbol for the ‘healthy’ nutrient content claim are part of the FDA’s Nutrition Innovation Strategy (NIS) and can help address health inequities associated with some nutrition-related chronic diseases. One of the goals of the NIS is to modernize claims. Claims serve as quick signals for consumers about the benefits contained in particular foods or beverages, and help consumers better understand nutrition information. Claims also can encourage companies to reformulate products to improve their nutritional value to be eligible to bear the claim.

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“[This] request for feedback is an important initial step toward our goal of providing consumers with information and tools to enable them to easily and quickly make food choices consistent with public health recommendations and to encourage the development of healthier foods by the industry.”

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